VCkidsFYI: Is your teen learning to drive? What parents need to know

Ventura County Behavioral Health

Teens' risk of crashing is doubled after using marijuana.

In Ventura County

  • 1 in 8 high school seniors within the past 2 weeks had driven high
  • 1 in 4 had ridden in a car with a high driver
Kids may think it’s safe to drive if they use marijuana. They may think taking a prescription medication is okay too. Drug-impaired driving is a big issue, and it’s best to talk to your teen before they get behind the wheel. What can happen? Recent studies using real-life driving models, show marijuana impairs your ability to drive just like alcohol. Teens who drive after smoking marijuana weaved in their lane frequently, had a reduction in their reaction time when stopping, and drivers lacked the ability to concentrate on the road. Worse yet, drivers who drank alcohol and smoked marijuana were impaired far more than if they had only one of the substances.

Learning to drive is a rite of passage for many teens. Start now to discuss the risks and set some ground rules for prevention. Try a couple of these tactics with your teen:

Make a Parent-Teen Driving Contract

The "Parents Are the Key" campaign from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a great tool to help parents keep teen drivers safe on the road. See the Eight Danger Zones for Teens Behind the Wheel and Parent-Teen Driving Agreement. The contract includes all aspects related to safe teen driving. Try writing your own Parent-Teen Agreement as a way to get your teen involved, with a special emphasis on the dangers of driving under the influence of any drug, especially marijuana.

  • I promise that I will respect laws about drugs and alcohol.
  • Drive only when I am alcohol and drug-free, including marijuana.
  • Never allow any alcohol or illegal drugs in the car.
  • Be a passenger only with drivers who are alcohol and drug free, including marijuana.

Make a Safety Pact

  • Ensure that your teen calls you, or has an alternate contact ride, if they need a ride home from a friend’s house, a party, or event.
  • Emphasize the risk of driving with friends who may have used marijuana. Start the habit of a daily dialogue about driving safely and not using drugs. Remember, the #1 threat to a teen’s safety is driving or riding in a car with a teen driver. This risk is doubled after using marijuana.

To Learn More

Attached are some resources to help learn about the facts of alcohol and drugs. We’ve included some websites and local resources in the community.

Local Resources:

If you're concerned about signs of drug use with your child, call (805) 981-9200 to talk with a professional at Ventura County Behavioral Health, Alcohol & Drug Programs, Youth Services. Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00.
TAGS: Youth, Parents
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